Broken down plane

The RNZAF plane taking John Key, a business delegation and journalists to India has broken down and stranded them en route at Townsville, where it has stopped for refuelling.

And stranded journalists have to write about something, so there has been a lot of moaning about the breakdown.

If the Air Force 757 is relatively unreliable then there is good cause to complain. Otherwise it may be just one of those things that can happen with international travel on tight schedules.

Audrey Young writes Key should be seething over Air Force breakdown.

Key should be seething. The break down was unforgivable.

It’s embarrassing for New Zealand’s reputation as a can-do country.
Can’t even arrive.

It is not just one of those things that should be accepted an unavoidable.

Every breakdown can be avoidable just as every crash is avoidable.

The Air Force has failed at the absolute basics, to keep its planes in reasonable working order.

I think that it’s remarkable how many flights happen around the world every day with relatively few problems.

Sometimes problems occur. Young may be seething, but that won’t achieve anything except generate a headline.

It’s impossible to avoid every breakdown.

If the Air Force planes are less well maintained than normal airline practice then there are grounds for complaint.

Otherwise fuming in Townsville is pointless pontificating.

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38 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  25th October 2016

    Given that our poor old depleted RNZAF has a very small fleet of aircraft & that there have been 4 incidents requiring emergency landings since June this year (3 in August & September) perhaps they DO have a high problem rate compared to our national airline.

    I’d be a bit nervous about flying in our Air Force aircraft & do wonder if their maintenance is not up to scratch.

    Summary of recent incidents:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/84492959/breaking-crash-at-whenupai-airport

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  25th October 2016

      Time to contract out the service?

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  25th October 2016

        Who did you have in mind? The Chinese or the Russians would probably give us the best deal.

        Time to put more resources into the Air Force. And Defence generally.

        Reply
      • Missy

         /  25th October 2016

        to who? Alan, you may not be aware but all the civilian aircraft contractors are pretty much staffed by ex RNZAF, so if you think the RNZAF need to contract out services, it will be to those they trained. The RNZAF is considered as the supreme trainer in Aircraft Maintenance and Aircrew in NZ, most airline, and aircraft maintenance, companies in NZ will actively recruit from the Air Force. I don’t thin outsourcing will help.

        This is an issue with the age of the planes, and the Government (and public) unwillingness to spend the money that is required to upgrade the fleet and modernise it.

        Companies like Air NZ have much more modern planes than our Air Force. The Government has to spend money, but that is not palatable to the public so they don’t spend what they should.

        This so called journalist needs to pull her head in and be thankful she is on a taxpayer funded flight to India.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  25th October 2016

          Another issue to consider perhaps with contracting maintenance to private contractors is whether there is a higher securty risk.

          Reply
          • Missy

             /  25th October 2016

            Absolutely, many of the Air Force planes have other equipment on board that will require Government Clearances – do we want to go the way of the US with so many civilian companies handing out Security Clearances willy nilly (think Snowden).

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  25th October 2016

              I think you are dead right to be concerned about our ageing air force fleet & reported spare parts issues, Missy. I’m getting quite concerned about whether we’re now putting our chopper & fixed wing flight crews & pax at risk, not just embarrassment through breakdowns.

            • Missy

               /  25th October 2016

              Gezza, the chopper guys should be okay, they have the new NH90’s to play with. But the fixed wing guys are working with an ageing fleet that no first world airline would be seen dead using.

              It is sad that no-one can see that we need to spend the money on these planes.

              The fact that many of our Air Force planes are still flying is a testament to the skill of the crews on the ground that keep them airborne.

        • David

           /  25th October 2016

          “Companies like Air NZ have much more modern planes than our Air Force. ”

          This is the key point. No airline would survive flying 50 year old aircraft like the RNZAF does. Air NZ has an average age of 8 years for comparison.

          Even Air Force One breaks down from time to time.

          When the government proposed spending the billions needed to renew this fleet, and the millions needed to keep it 100% available, I don’t doubt Audrey Young would one of the first to yell and scream about all the other things the money could be spent on.

          Reply
          • Missy

             /  25th October 2016

            Agree David.

            The problem is they expect the Air Force to be working perfectly all the time, with no money spent on it.

            Personally I think if Audrey Young dislikes the Air Force flying experience that much she should have flown commercial….

            oh, sorry, that won’t happen it won’t be paid for by the taxpayer!

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  25th October 2016

            I understand the air force planes were built in 1993 so 23 years old. But why should the air force maintain commercial planes effectively operating in competition to commercial charter services?

            Reply
            • Missy

               /  26th October 2016

              “But why should the air force maintain commercial planes effectively operating in competition to commercial charter services?”

              What a stupid and ignorant comment.

              The Air Force are not operating in competition to commercial charter services, Air Force planes obtain privileges in some countries a commercial charter service would never get. Also, the Air Force do not charge the passengers to fly on it, nor do they charter to private people / companies, they are used exclusively for Military & Government use.

              1. In some countries (many in fact) commercial airlines cannot land at Military bases – so for the Military this becomes an issue for using commercial airlines when the military may have to transport troops to one of these Military bases.

              2. In some countries no commercial airline (regardless of who is on board, or whether it is chartered or not) will get diplomatic status. This means that in some countries which aren’t fully friendly – or allies – our planes cannot be searched – or the crews either. It also means that in some countries some diplomatic cargo cannot be transported unless on a military plane. In fact even in many allied countries any official transport cannot be searched – nor the crew.

              3. Many Commercial chartered airlines will not fly into some areas of the world where we may need to transport troops, or even Government officials.

              There are possibly a lot more reasons why commercial charter flights cannot be used for some tasking, and why the Military needs to keep planes like the 757 that we as members of the public are unaware of. The bloody media just need to shut up and stop throwing tantrums when things don’t go their way – especially when they aren’t paying for it.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  25th October 2016

        I don’t see why the PM has to be flown around by the air force. Just charter a commercial service when needed like any other big business would.

        Reply
        • Missy

           /  26th October 2016

          Most likely because a charter service won’t get a diplomatic clearance & diplomatic status for the flight. Government Officials are not ‘any other big business’.

          Reply
        • Missy

           /  26th October 2016

          Also, there were NZDF personnel (not just the crew) on board, so that could be another reason why the Air Force plane was used.

          Reply
  2. Klik Bate

     /  25th October 2016

    Audrey Young is right of course – “It’s embarrassing for New Zealand’s reputation as a can-do country. The Air Force has failed at the absolute basics, to keep it’s planes in reasonable working order”

    Maybe the RNZAF could learn a thing or two..

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  25th October 2016

      Did she say “it begins to take shape when he fixes the the tails and the wings, made of aluminium shits”?

      Looking forward to seeing the test flight.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  25th October 2016

        Who’s got it in for test flights? 😡

        Reply
        • Missy

           /  25th October 2016

          No doubt the lefty liberals who don’t think anyone should risk their life!

          Despite the fact your life is at risk every day.

          By the way, in my experience, test pilots love their job, and get the risk. They just love flying, and will fly anything.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  25th October 2016

            I suppose it’s possible it might have been someone involved in underhand dealings in aluminium shits that they don’t want attention drawn to? 😳

            Reply
  3. lurcher1948

     /  25th October 2016

    There goes your tax cut folks

    Reply
  4. Missy

     /  25th October 2016

    The RNZAF planes aren’t less well maintained, if they were there is no way that the civilian companies – including Air NZ would be poaching Air Force personnel to work for them in all aspects.

    This so called journalist and those going on about it have just got to wake up to the fact that the problem here is an ageing fleet that is expensive to upgrade – money neither the Government nor the public seem willing to pay.

    The reason many private airlines have less breakdowns is because they have more money and newer planes. Maybe if the Government committed to upgrading the Air Force planes instead of relying on aging parts to continue to work then they would have less breakdowns.

    I am sorry, but those that are ciriticising this need to lobby the Government to spend more on defence, not less, and to stop criticising and look at the reality. This is a result of cuts in defence spending and the Air Force having to make do.

    I am sick of the anti defence propaganda coming from NZ media. If they don’t like Defence transport then they can pay for commercial flights and pay for it, as opposed to having a tax payer jolly. If they are happy to take free flights on the tax payer then they can shut up and deal with the issues of an ageing fleet and lack of spending on the military – they can’t have it both ways.

    Reply
  5. lurcher1948

     /  25th October 2016

    WOW it could have been an early election and talk of Keys legacy…just saying

    Reply
  6. Zedd

     /  25th October 2016

    OR he could maybe ‘slum it’ with the rest of us & go on Air-NZ.. surrounded by his ‘goon squad’ !? 😀

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  25th October 2016

      I think we could agree on something here, Zedd.

      Reply
    • Missy

       /  26th October 2016

      Don’t be ridiculous. For starters Air NZ doesn’t fly to India, second there are a number of reasons why Government Officials will use the Air Force for large delegations, partly because it means they get diplomatic status, second it means that they can work on whatever the official schedule is in flying between destinations.

      This delegation by the sounds of it was large, and included members of the NZDF cricket team who were heading to India as well, so what you have is a situation where the plane was already going up anyway, why waste taxpayers money further by putting the rest of the delegation on a commercial flight, especially when they would probably be flying Business Class?

      Unless you are in favour of wasting taxpayers money?

      Reply
  7. Zedd

     /  25th October 2016

    Im surprised the ‘$50mil man’ didnt have his own private jet on standby.. 😀

    Reply
  8. lurcher1948

     /  25th October 2016

    THANK GOD KEY LIVES it must be due to indian culture IMPORT MORE

    Reply
    • lurcher1948

       /  25th October 2016

      Sorry on reflection that was mean but hell those indians have added our maoris in a growth industry called armed robbery for cash and fags… win/win all around
      Remember smokes and armed Robbery is bàd for your health and liberty

      Reply
  9. Missy

     /  26th October 2016

    This sounds like a tantrum from a reporter who didn’t like being stuck in Townsville while a plane was being fixed. It has shades of the niggly articles they wrote when going to Fiji on the Hercules.

    If I was the Government I would stop letting the reporters fly on the planes with them when they use Air Force planes, it might stop their childish articles about things that are relatively common.

    Reply
  10. Missy

     /  26th October 2016

    “I think that it’s remarkable how many flights happen around the world every day with relatively few problems.”

    Really? I think you will find that there are a lot more problems than you appear to think around the world, they just don’t have sulky NZ journalists on board to report it. Also, most commercial airlines have a number of the fleet on standby to cover off for when planes break down.

    Just because you don’t read about it Pete doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    The RNZAF only has two 757’s, both usually in service, but when one needs servicing that leaves them exposed with only one plane to use, airlines will have 2-3 extra on standby to put in place when required.

    Just today there were problems with at least 3 planes that I am aware of, two made the news, one didn’t – the one that didn’t wasn’t dramatic, nor was it of interest to the media.

    This is only news because the so-called journalists on board are unhappy, and throwing a hissy fit, and they see it as yet another way to bash our defence forces.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  26th October 2016

      Missy, but is it practical? Most commercial planes have a high usage rate and their service teams have continuous experience working on them. In contrast, how many working trips do the airforce Boeings do and how much experience do their maintenance workers get on them? If you need surgery you want to go to the most experienced team, not a surgeon and anaethetist with little opportunity to practice. I find it hard to believe this arrangement makes sense.

      Reply
  11. We live or die through the results of our trade links with the rest of the world. It makes no sense to have our main “salesmen” for trade, driving around in a Model T. It makes a mockery of the status of the position of Prime Minister to have a second-hand aircraft at his or her disposal. The usual screams from the Left about how much it is costing will no doubt feature in any plan to upgrade the aircraft type, no wonder we are slipping back into “banana Republic” status – ask any Aussie.

    Reply
  12. patupaiarehe

     /  26th October 2016

    Reply

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